Cyclocross, what is it and how can I get involved?
Way back in the early 1900s, road racing cyclists wondered how to keep their fitness up in the winter months. The French, Dutch and Belgians came up with the idea of a steeplechase. The fastest person from one town spire to the other, whatever routes necessary, over fields , fences and rivers, riding or sometimes carrying their precious road bikes. This evolved into the cyclocross we see today on closed circuits roughly 2-3km long with hurdles and technical sections but easily accessible to fans and supporters. This is the football of the flatlands, riders are celebrities and thousands drink beer, eat frites with mayonnaise, watch racers and dance to thumping techno music at races in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Here in the UK we are a little more low-key but no less successful with the current mens World Champion being Tom Pidcock, current Junior Womens Champ Zoe Backstedt, and former Under 23 Womens Champ Evie Richards.
It really is a grass roots sport with categories from under 8’s through to Vet 60+. Being on closed circuits (away from cars) riders learn bike handling skills in slippery but relatively safe conditions but on a bike that is very similar to a road bike. Races are generally held in parks , schools or open fields with surfaces ranging from grass to deep mud. Adults cheer on their kids in the morning then the kids cheer on their parents with a handful of fries in the afternoon. Mountain bikes, gravel bikes and cyclocross bikes are all welcome (I’ve even seen the odd road bike but not recommended later in the season), with absolutely nothing but welcome and support from those track side and racing for all competitors. Family friendly is this entry level cycle sport.
Entry to races is via the BC website and you need a BC licence to race. If you don’t have one, don’t worry you can buy a day licence at the events. TCC members tend to ride in the Central CX League and the Wessex CX League (links below). Contact our very helpful Cyclocross Rep for more information or for sage advice. (link below).